Jesse’s Story (a true story…)
Jesse, a young yearling Spanish mustang stallion, lives on the wild prairie near the Montana / Wyoming border.
I first saw him in June, when the wild mustang stallion bands were preparing for a busy summer caring for their mares and babies. His personality was engaging, sweet and gregarious, almost effervescent, as he played with other yearlings that warm early summer morning. There was something special about him and my lens followed him as he went about his morning. Suddenly two dominant stallions began challenging each other for dominance of the mare harems. As the two powerful stallions challenged each other, their interactions quickly escalated into a heated contest. I watch from a respectful distance, worried for Jesse, so young and inquisitive. I held my breath as he walked ever closer to the contesting powerful stallions. I knew if he entered their contest, he would be injured, perhaps very seriously. I held my breath, my heart beat harder, as I watch Jesse thru my lens.
Then I saw the Elder… The old battle scarred veteran black mustang stallion watching the contesting stallions and Jesse from at least ½ mile away, grazing alone, like so many old stallions. He watched the escalating situation closely and made a decision. He started to walk toward the stallions. His injured leg had healed but was swollen from damaged tissue and a long hard life. Hobbling slowly and steadily over the rough rocky terrain he arrived on scene. Clearly he was the Elder stallion. The two contesting stallions did not acknowledge him but Jesse did immediately. The yearling joyfully trotted up to the Elder and stood, waiting. As I watched thru my lens, my heart was deeply moved as the injured old Elder accepted Jesse’s invitation to play. And so the Elder patiently played with the yearling 10 feet away from the now combating stallions. The Elder kept Jesse occupied and interested, thereby avoiding certain injury from the stallions. I was moved to see the old Elder care for the youngster. After a while, Jesse tired and went off to graze. The old Elder watched the two combating stallions as they accelerated their battle and injury was looming. The old Elder, walked between them, stopping the combat. The stallions obeyed and walked off in separate directions to graze on the sweet summer grass. I watched the old Elder survey the scene for a bit, look over at Jesse dozing and then hobble slowly away, back toward his solitary grazing grounds. Jesse dozed in the rich aromatic sage; safe and content. I wondered if he was dreaming of the days when he too would be a powerful mustang stallion. I thanked the old Elder for taking care of Jesse that warm summer morning and hoped he would continue to watch over Jesse and this wild mustang band for a long time to come. I picked some sage and holding it close to my heart said, “thank you brothers for allowing me to be with you in this way”. I gently placed it on the prairie and quietly walked away, grateful to the wild mustangs for sharing their lives this warm summer morning…
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